5 Things That Will Amaze You in Texas Architecture

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Texas has an amazing variety of architecture, including some of the highest skyscrapers in America and a world-class art scene which has inspired world-renowned architects to design some of our museums, chapels, and fountains. Along with contemporary buildings, the Lone Star State also has a rich history which has helped to shape our design and construction landscape. The missions have cultural influences of both the Spanish as well as Native Americans; places like Fredericksburg, in the Texas Hill Country, bears the marks of 19th-century German immigrants; our commercial hubs and cities have the look and feel of 19th and 20th-century wealthy patrons. To understand the diversity with which Texas architecture has been shaped, here are five of the state’s most design-significant structures, ranging from historic to modern, focusing on community, culture, and the Texas environment.

1. Dallas City Hall

5 Things that Will Amaze You in Texas Architecture

Photo: Wikimedia

In an effort to revitalize the reputation of the City of Dallas following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Mayor J. Erik Jonsson commenced with a community plan document entitled Goals for Dallas. High on this list was such a building. World-class architect I.M. Pei was hired for the job in 1978.

2. The Kimbell Art Museum

5 Things that Will Amaze You in Texas Architecture

Photo: Wikimedia

Similar to many other museums in the Lone Star State, the Kimbell Art Museum uses natural light as its architectural focal point. It was designed by U.S. architect Louis Kahn in 1972, and the final result is the existing, characteristically-inspired design which, itself, resembles a work of art.

3. Mission San Antonio de Valero in San Antonio


Photo: Wikimedia

This 18th-century mission is better known as the Alamo in modern times and is no doubt one of the most iconic buildings in Texas. Prior to the 1836 battle which would catapult this compound into the pages of history, the Mission San Antonio de Valero was an early Spanish missionary outpost that sat along the Rio Grande.

4. The Little Chapel-in-the-Woods

5 Things that Will Amaze You in Texas Architecture

Photo: Wikimedia

Often referred to as the Texas godfather of modern architecture, architect O’Neil Ford supported craftsmanship, handmade product, and our beautiful Texas landscape. The Little Chapel-in-the-Woods at Texas Woman’s University in Denton was a highlight of his career and was constructed in 1938. Meant to be an uplifting, introspective, interdenominational prayer chapel, it’s both small and intimate.

5. Pennzoil Place

5 Things that Will Amaze You in Texas Architecture

Photo: Flickr/Ken Lund

Though they aren’t the tallest buildings in Houston, one can’t help but pay attention to Pennzoil Place’s two 36-story towers. Designed by U.S. architect Philip Johnson, they were completed in 1975 in all their trapezoidal glory. Sleek and dark, with bronze-tinted glass, the two buildings are only separated by a ten-foot space (with a glass atrium connecting them at 115 feet.)